Map from Google - Angola
Angola is a large African country, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and its climate is tempered, along the coast by a cold current, and in the inland areas by a plateau. The result is a sub-tropical climate
almost everywhere, with a cool and dry season (called Cacimbo
) from May to August, and a hot and rainy season that runs from mid-September to April in the north-east, from mid-October to April in the centre, from November to March in the south, and from February to April in Luanda, while it's almost non-existent on the southern coastline.
The cool sea current which flows along the coast is called Benguela Current
, and it makes the climate mild and dry, at least in the central and southern coast: in the southern coastal stretch the climate is even desert. In inland areas, the rains are generally more abundant than on the coast, but even here they are more abundant in the centre and north, because of the greater proximity to the equator.
Let's have a look at the three main climate zones.
1- The tropical zone
In the northern area
, where the plateau drops below 1,000 metres (3,300 feet), and in the northern part of the Cabinda Enclave, the climate is tropical
, with a rainy season that runs from mid-October to mid-May in the west (see M'banza-Kongo) and from mid-September to April in the east (see Dundo). Rainfall exceeds 1,000 millimetres (40 inches) per annum everywhere.
Here is the average precipitation in M'banza-Kongo, located at 400 metres (1,300 feet) above sea level.
Average precipitation - M'banza-Kongo
The average temperature drops to around 21/22 °C (70/72 °F) from June to August, while it remains around 25/26 °C (77/79 °F) for a long period, that is from October to May. Very hot days are rare: usually the temperature does not exceed 34/35 °C (93/95 °F), but during the rainy season the air is moist, so the heat is unpleasant. The sunshine amount is never good in the west, where the sky is often cloudy even during the dry season, while in the east it becomes good, at least in the dry season. The best period to visit this area goes from June to August.
Here are the average temperatures of M'banza-Kongo.
Average temperatures - M'banza-Kongo
2- The coast
Along the coast
, the climate is desert in the south, semi-desert in the central area (between the two red lines, where lies the capital Luanda
, where the only months with moderate rains are March and April), and semiarid in the north, where rainfall exceeds 500 mm (20 inches) per year. The three zones are separated by two red lines on the map. Although rainfall is little, fog, mists and low clouds
are common especially in winter, ie from June to September in the south (see Namibe) and from July to October in Luanda. In the north, in Cabinda
, sunshine is always lacking because winter fogs and mists are replaced by the rainy season cloud banks, which here begins to be substantial and runs from late October to early May.
Here is the average precipitation in Luanda.
Average precipitation - Luanda
The average temperature is higher in the north: in Cabinda it goes from 26 °C (79 °F) from February to April, to 21 °C (70 °F) in July; in Luanda it goes from around 26 °C (79 °F) from February to April, to 20 °C (68 °F) in July and August.
Average temperatures - Luanda
The southern part of the coast is cooler: in Namibe (formerly Moçâmedes) the mean temperature goes from 24 °C (75 °F) in February and March to 16.5 °C (61.5 °F) in July.
Average temperatures - Namibe
In the southern part of the coast the rains are very scarce, given that they drop below 50 mm (2 in) per year. Here is the average precipitation in Namibe.
Average precipitation - Namibe
The coastal area can experience sudden increases in temperature when winds blow from the interior, especially where the escarpment that separates the plain from the plateau is higher. In the central area, we find the highest peak of the country, Morro de Moco
, with its 2,620 metres (8,600 feet).
In the coastal area, the best time goes from May to October.
3- The plateau
In the inland plateau
, whose altitude generally ranges between 1,000 and 1,800 metres (3,300 and 6,000 feet), the climate is sub-tropical
, with a rainy season that runs from October to April in the north, and from December to March in the south. The rainfall generally goes from 1,200 to 1,600 mm (47 to 63 in) per annum in the centre and north (above the orange line on the map), while it drops below 1,000 mm (40 in) in the south.
Here is the average precipitation in Huambo, located in the centre of the plateau, at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level.
Average precipitation - Huambo
Near the Equator, the sun passes its zenith at two fairly distant times of the year (at the equator this event takes place on March 21 and September 23), and this affects the rainfall pattern, producing two maxima within the rainy season, that is, in November-December and March-April in the north. On the contrary, in the south the two solar peaks are very close, so the wettest period goes from December to February, at the height of summer. During the cooler season, from May to August, on the plateau the sun shines and it never rains, but there are wide temperature variations between night and day, so that nights are cold, with possible frost, while during the day it can be even warm.
Here are the mean temperatures in Huambo.
Average temperatures - Huambo
Between September and November, in the southern part near the border with Namibia, where the average altitude is around a thousand metres (3,300 feet), it can be very hot, with highs around 33/35 °C (92/95 °F) and peaks of 40 °C (104 °F), as we can see from the temperatures of Ondjiva.
Average temperatures - Ondjiva
As mentioned, in the southern part of the rainfall is scarcer. Here the average rainfall in Ondjiva.
Average precipitation - Ondjiva
In this plateau area, the best time goes from May to September.
The sea temperature
in Luanda is warm for many months of the year, while it gets a little cool, but still acceptable for swimming, from July to September, when it drops to 22/23 °C (72/73 °F).
Sea temperature - Luanda
In the southern part of the coast (see Namibe), the sea temperature is lower, and it becomes very cool in the winter months, around 18/19 °C (64/66 °F).
Sea temperature - Namibe
When to go
The best time to visit Angola in its entirety runs from mid-May to August
, being the coolest and sunniest period, at least in inland areas, while along the coast fogs and low clouds are frequent, but with no rain. On the plateau, winter nights are cold, and the temperature can drop even below freezing, especially in the centre and south. Even May and September are acceptable months: they are a bit warmer, which means that the plateau is less cold at night, but during the day it can get hot in the extreme south, while in the north-east in September the first rains begin, and in May the last rains end.
In Luanda, you can swim
from December to June, when the sun often shines and it seldom rains, maybe avoiding March and April which are the only relatively rainy months; the best month is probably May. Further south, it rains still less, but the sea is cooler, so you can restrict to March and April. North of Luanda, the sunshine is increasingly scarcer and rainfall more abundant, so this coastal area it's not the best for beach tourism.
What to pack
(June to August): for the coast, spring/autumn clothes, a sweatshirt or sweater and a jacket, especially south of Luanda. For the northernmost area, light clothes for the day, a sweatshirt and a light jacket for the evening, sun hat. For the south-central plateau, light clothes for the day, but also sweater, jacket and hat for the evening; hiking shoes.
(December to February): along the coast, light clothing, a light sweatshirt for the evening, a light jacket for the southern part (see Namibe). For the northernmost area, light and loose-fitting clothes, of natural fibres, sun hat, a light sweatshirt for the evening, light raincoat or umbrella. For the south-central plateau, light clothes for the day, sun hat, a sweatshirt and a spring jacket for the evening, light raincoat or umbrella, hiking shoes.